Data from the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS), based on more than 100,000 fire door inspections carried out by its approved inspectors in 2021, found that three-quarters of fire doors failed to meet the required standards, putting lives at risk in the event of a fire.
Healthcare buildings, local authorities and housing associations were the biggest failures, the organisation said.
Given that these buildings’ fire doors are subject to higher use and traffic than other building types, regular inspection and maintenance is key to ensuring they remain fit for purpose throughout their lifespan, it added.
The most common reasons for inspection failure – which can be a result of one or multiple issues – were excessive gaps between the door and the frame (77%), care and maintenance issues (54%), and issues over smoke sealing (37%). In almost a third of cases (31%), inspections failed due to improper installation – meaning those doors were never fit to perform the task of holding back fire and smoke.
FDIS scheme manager Louise Halton said “With the vast majority of fire doors in the UK failing inspections, it’s sad to say that a tragedy is simply waiting to happen, especially so in buildings that are home to vulnerable residents. But this situation is entirely preventable and, at this stage, still reversible. A fit for purpose fire door can save lives, so now is the time for all of those responsible for fire safety to urgently inspect fire doors in their buildings and act immediately if faults are identified.
“It’s crucial that reputable and trained fire door inspectors, such as those approved by the FDIS, carry out fire door inspections. However, the ongoing reporting of maintenance issues with fire doors is a role for us all – every building user should play a proactive role in reporting any faults to ensure they are quickly addressed so that the building’s safety is maintained.”
The inspection data also revealed inspectors’ top three fire safety concerns as a lack of fire door maintenance, and poor knowledge of fire safety responsibilities and a limited understanding of the role fire doors play in keeping people safe by those responsible for building fire safety.
Louise Halton added: “The issues surrounding the understanding and knowledge of those responsible for fire safety was also highlighted in the FDIS’ inspection data released in 2020 as a key concern. This clearly demonstrates the need for individuals throughout the building safety sector to have access to quality training, assessment and examination to ensure their knowledge is up to date, and that they understand the fundamental role of a fire door - which is only fit for purpose if it is maintained correctly and inspected regularly.”